About Me

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Six years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Speaking of Sock Wars [First Target is *Gone*]

I signed up for Yarnmonkey's Sock Wars. 700+ of us have signed up for it. I bought my yarn on Friday (the 15th), even though it's designed to be a stash-busting exercise and "everybody" has surplus DK weight.

Everybody but me, that is. I scored this yarn at 25% off, and it's gaudy enough to make a neat pair of socks. I have no idea what the label says. I think it's Swedish???

Haven't swatched it yet. Am thinking that I'll need to gear down to 4's or 3's to make gauge.

Specified gauge: 22 sts & 30 rows = 4" on size 5's.

9/19/06:Gauge on Clover 4's: 22 sts = 4.5"; 30 rows = 4.5". Well, at least I'm consistent. Potage a la grenouille ~ it's what's for breakfast!

9/20/06: Gauge on Quicksilver 3's: 22 sts = 4.5"; 30 rows = 4.5". As in no discernible difference. As in I am very confused.

Knitted in the round on Crystal Palace 2's: OK, this is on 36 sts, and I'm getting about 23 sts per 4" but the vertical gauge is correct. So I carefully slipped this tubular swatch onto my 11-1/2" long circular 3 and after only 2 rounds I can see that it will be too airy.

I guess my choices are to knit it on the 2's while listening to reggae, or on 3's while listening to salsa [to slow down my hands, or speed them up, respectively].

9/21/06: Biding my time, waiting for the pattern and my target.

9/22/06: 5:17am on my computer and still no pattern, no target. What is going on, over there on the Emerald Isle?

I learned/realized this morning that I had not set up a profile on the official Sock Wars website. Wrestled with that for awhile. Also realized while checking my primary email account that the tub was still running. Thank goodness for the overflow drain!

9/24/06: What is up with Blogger? I can't get the spacing right on this, and I just obliterated all my notes from yesterday. Harrumph! So I guess I'll give you the Reader's Digest Condensed version. I cast on the first sock right after I got home from work on Friday. I took it with me to LittleBit's play cycle at the high school (she was on the costume and makeup crew this go-round) and knitted through the entire production. I only had to repair three splitty stitches once I got home. When I went to bed on Friday night, the first sock was ready for its heel flap.

I woke up yesterday morning a little before 6:00 and cast on the second sock. When I went to my church's annual workshops and dinner before the General Relief Society Conference broadcast, I had completed both heels and was finishing the gussets on the second sock. When I went to bed last night, both feet were halfway done.

I finished grafting the first toe before leaving for church. I was afraid, three-fourths of the way along the foot, that I would run out of yarn and would have to make a frantic dash to the yarn store tomorrow on my lunch hour.

When we got home from church this afternoon, I got busy with the second sock. By 6:30pm, I was nearly ready for the toe decreases.

It is now 11:05pm, and the second sock is done, including the EZ sewn cast-off. I have threaded the needle to do the EZ cast-off on it, when I wake in the morning. I'll take it to work and have my friend take photos. It will go out in the mail on my way home from work.

I have my target's snailmail addy, and she's mailing her socks and her target's data to me tomorrow as well. I wonder how many socks I'll complete before my assassin's socks reach me from Down Under?

What I learned on this project: (1) first top-down socks; (2) first heel flaps and gussets; (3) the Rib of Doom is fun to knit; (4) socks in DK on size 2's go really fast, compared to socks in fingering weight on 0's; (5) EZ's sewn cast-off.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Which "Lorelai" Has Her Nose Out of Joint

9/22/06, very early:
Small fender-bender last night, a couple of blocks away from picking up Fourthborn and Fiance from their work. Nobody hurt, not much visible damage on my car, slightly more on hers, but my dear little red Lorelai has her nose distinctly out of joint, and her fan is much more audible than when we left the house in the morning. Now we will learn if Other Driver's insurance company is as johnny-on-the-spot about claims as their commercials say...

9/26/06, rather late:
And it would appear that they are. I received a call Friday morning from their claims adjuster, accepting liability. We made an appointment for me to bring Lorelai in for vehicular Botox. I dropped the car off at 8:00 this morning and drove to work in a Ford Taurus, which is large and slow and quirky. It accelerates slowly. It decelerates slowly. Both important facts to remember while driving into BigD and back, until Lorelai warbles, "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup."

I received a voicemail saying that it looked as if she would be out of pocket for six business days, and they would call me on Friday with a progress report.

The moonroof on the rental car is nice, very nice. LittleBit opened it on our drive home from Knit Night. And the sound system is impressive. But I have to yank the steering wheel right and left, hard, in order to start the engine. "Park" doesn't like me. The car just sits there and flashes its anti-theft idiot light at me and refuses to start unless I wrestle it into submission. That's not a quirk: that's a design flaw.

I Do Not Like This Car.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yipes! Stripes!

Anybody besides me remember the old ad campaign for Beechnut Fruit Stripes Gum? "Yipes! Stripes! Beechnut's got 'em! Yipes! Stripes! It's Fruit Stripes Gum! Yipes! Stripes! They gotta lotta flavor ... something, something", it's been about 40 years since I heard it.

You'll recall the minuscule ball that was leftover from Sock the First and its mate, and BittyBit's Bitty Socks. About 2-1/2" of gently-wound striped Cherry Tree Hill gorgeousness. I was in the LYS on my lunch hour a couple of weeks ago and found an overdyed skein of Nature's Palette Fingering (185 yds of superwash merino that was originally a pinky beige reminiscent of, forgive me, upchuck. It is now a lively warm darkish coral, and there was only one skein. A few days later I went back for more stitch markers ~ this Elann Crop Cardi is a marker-gobbling fool! ~ and found the same yarn in "Zinfandel". And last week when I went back for the last size of needles and yet more markers, I found it in "Chocolate".

Obviously, I've been carrying those colors in my head for weeks now, because each yarn individual goes well with the striped remnant, and together they are amazing. I haven't decided how I want to use them together, but use them together I will. I have enough yarn here to justify buying the Fair Isle book from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Check out those bobbles on the ankles!

I'm not sure that cankles like mine, which ebb and flow with the tides, the moon, my hormones, my salt intake, my level of hydration, and how much or how little sleep I've gotten, are the best canvas on which to display über-bobbles. I'm also not sure that I'm going to let a little thing like generally-accepted notions of good taste [why am I suddenly reminded of the accounting term GAAP: generally accepted accounting principles? or the FDA term GRAS: generally recognized as safe?] get in the way of continuing to wear what I please.

Firstborn and I have had discussions on this. She has been, among other things, an assistant manager at a now-defunct triumvirate clothing chain that served, respectively: petites like Secondborn, skinny-mini's like Firstborn, and regular people like me. And she has thoroughly absorbed the "no white after" and "no patent leather before" rules that separate the Us's from the Them's, and which I collectively call [with apologies to the Book of Mormon] The Foolish Traditions of the Mothers. And she has been known to say -- with amazing tact for anyone who came out of my womb -- "I'm not being critical, but I am very curious why you're wearing that top with that skirt." Particularly if I am wearing a black and plum silk charmeuse kimono bought from the first incarnation of the J. Peterman catalogue over a skirt I made from neckties, where the predominant color is red. Which reminds me: I haven't worn that skirt in three years, because I need to edit out two ties that have become "holey-er than thou".

I have reminded her, equally gently, that there is fashion, and then there is *style*. And any woman of my age who has not developed a style of her own, is far beyond help from the "thou shalt nots" of the fashionistas. I was putting red and purple together before the Red Hat Society (of which I am a member, thankyouverymuch) was a gleam in Sue Ellen Cooper's eye.

All I need now is to decide if bobbled ankles are part of my style, before I spend the better part of a month designing socks to prove it.

Note to self: after finishing the construction of the sofa table this Saturday, haul that skirt out of the closet and hie thyself to the thrift shop for more gently-worn ties.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Like Unto the Yarn That Doesn't End

It wasn't until I set it on the table next to a stack of Finished Objects that I realized why this yarn seemed so familiar. The colors are almost identical to The Yarn That Doesn't End. But this stuff, instead of being Chenille from H*ll, is a lovely 50-50 silk/wool blend.

A Knit Night friend ordered it online, hoping for Subdued, but got Jeweltones. She had been musing for several weeks that she'd like to try overdyeing just the turquoise part. When she brought it to Knit Night and laid it out on the table, several of us gasped. Apparently I gasped the loudest, because she let me buy it from her at a ridiculously low price.

Comments on this yarn have been (A) outspoken and (B) wildly varied. One of the women I work with said, "That's the ugliest yarn I've ever seen." Another coworker thinks it as drool-worthy as I do. Secondborn, while photographing it, said, "This is absolutely gorgeous." And I'm sure others of my kids will proclaim "hideous". All three of these photos are much darker on my monitor than they are on Secondborn's. We will blame it ~ conveniently ~ on Blogger.

I'm thinking this wants to be a smallish Clapotis when it grows up. Would that make it a Clapot-ette? Cla-petite? Something between a scarf and a shawl, more dashing than most capelets I have seen. Not ready to have an extended conversation with it. Just very happy to have played Rescue Ranger in saving it from a fate worse than frogging.

Some things are just not meant to be overdyed.

On a completely unrelated topic, now I know why I don't want to be a famous author. Kudos to the Harlot for her Iron Woman Tour. I give her a weary but totally impressed sitting ovation from here at my keyboard.

I flew to Houston and back today, for the job that feeds my kid and my yarn habit, and I am *whipped*. Nearly ran out of gas in the parking garage at Love Field, looking for a place to stash Lorelai for the day. (Lorelai is my car, named after one of my two favorite TV characters, because this car just isn't a Rory. Not even a falling-stupidly-into-bed-with-Dean-Rory).

Nearly wept at locking the Elann Crop Cardi and the Sock War Swatch into the trunk. Nearly fell apart with helpless laughter because my seat on the return flight had swallowed up one end of my seatbelt, and it took two big strong men [my seatmates] and one small feisty flight attendant to extract it. Nearly fell asleep in a business meeting in front of the Poohbah to End All Poohbahs because of the carb rush from lunch. [A very nice man; it would have been a shame to have hurt his feelings.]

Happily home, full of leftover tortilla soup -- homemade, no less! -- and barefoot and in my exceedingly modest jammies. This is the part where George Burns would have said, "Say goodnight, Gracie."

Goodnight, Gracie. [And goodbye, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are...]

Monday, September 18, 2006

What to Do When You Can't Sleep

Took a nap about 6:30 last night. Woke up just before 11:00. LittleBit was back from visiting her dad and sound asleep. Working on the sofa table that I'm building was out of the question, LOL.

Made myself a bowl of apple oatmeal (old fashioned oats cooked in apple juice instead of water, with a smidgen of cinnamon and/or freshly-ground nutmeg). Poured myself a mug of milk. Went through my inbox.

Decided to organize the 50-drawer plastic cabinet I acquired over the weekend. Nearly full of seed beads, bugle beads, sequins, and pearls in assorted colors. I thought it would be useful to print a label for each little drawer, using my return address labels, and to color-code the labels to roughly match their contents.

A more far-sighted person would have carefully removed the drawers and arranged them in color families before beginning to type the labels. Not me! First drawer: black matte bugle beads. Type label. Go on to next drawer. Red shiny bugle beads. Type label. Third drawer: black seed beads. Swap drawer #2 and drawer #3, type label for drawer #3, renumber drawer #2. Obviously the previous owner of this collection was not mildly-to-somewhat obsessive about having her colors whoop through the rainbow like the Grambling marching band.

And so it went, combining drawers occasionally when I could see no distinction between their contents. I think it took the better part of four hours to peer and decipher and play musical chairs with the drawers and their labels. Four hours of happy puttering for a job that would have taken half an hour, tops, if I'd let my inner mathematician be in charge. When I was done, I cut-and-pasted to a fresh label form and printed them up.

And now it is an hour until my alarm goes off. Suddenly I'm sleepy. Go figure!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

BittyBit's Bitty Socks, Revisited

This is a severely cropped photo of a sock-in-progress and a wildly waving foot. Unless you've dealt with a 20-month-old, you have no idea how difficult it is to keep said sock-in-progress on a foot that would rather be bare, much less photograph it and not reveal the chaos that was my dining room table while the socks were underway.

This is all that is left of the yarn after one big pair of socks for me, and one somewhat smaller pair for BittyBit. The ball is a little less than 2-1/2" in diameter. I think -- I hope -- there is enough for a pair of toes for a third pair of socks, and maybe enough for a pair of heels. I bought three new sock-weight yarns over the past week, each inspired by a color in this Cherry Tree Hill. But that is a subject for another blog entry.

I am amazed at the speed and variety with which my stash is growing. My Knit Night friends? Enablers one and all, but I mean that in the nicest possible way.

These are the finished socks, dancing a little jig. I was dancing a little jig, myself, at having finished my second pair of socks in less than a week, when the first pair took just over a month.

This is one finished sock on a foot only temporarily at rest. Thank you, honeys, I think you both deserve another batch of brownies!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Lace, Lace, Babyyyy!

Since BittyBit's Bitty Socks are *done*, I'm knitting the Elann Crop Cardi with my Denim Silk. I was so impressed with Jo's sweater http://celticmemoryyarns.blogspot.com/2006/09/finished-finished-finished-and-knits.html that I went to Elann's website and printed off the pattern.

Conventional wisdom says that you don't make lace with a tweed yarn, and I do realize that most of the lace detail will disappear into the texture. I didn't just fall off the yarn truck, you know! But I like the shape of the jacket, and I like the feel of the fabric.

This will also allow me to make a sweater from ten balls of discontinued Berroco without incorporating other yarns. Sometimes I don't want to tarantella with Signor Fibonacci.

And then there is my stash of pearl beads left over from Firstborn's wedding gown, for beading the bottom. Pearls and tweed: a classic combination!

At this point, I'm on my fourth ball of yarn, my final size of needles, and probably at the underarm; I've been so busy with non-essentials that I haven't had time to slip the live stitches onto a narrow ribbon and try this baby on.

Needles I have used: I started with my old Quicksilver 5's, and after four rows I realized that no way was this going to fit around my neck. I got the right swatch on 5's, but when I began the real thing, the Swatch Muse got the hiccups or something, so I frogged back to the first slip knot and started over on my Quicksilver 6's. Some improvement, but still too small. Back to the slip knot for try #3, with Quicksilver 7's. Bingo! When it was time to switch to 8's, that's when I realized that all my size 8's are gone with the wind. I had just enough time to hit a LYS in Fort Worth and then make a 5pm appointment at my church. They had Addi Turbo's, but no Natura's. So I reluctantly bought the Turbo's and tried to knit with my fingers crossed for luck. I really didn't enjoy that part of the sweater, though I might like the needles just fine with another yarn. I borrowed Student Coworker #1's size 9 Holz & Stein's in some exotic wood that I'm too lazy to lookup online. Cherry? Rosewood? Very pretty, and the perfect antidote to 4" of the knitting equivalent of a skid on black ice. I'm finishing on Natura 10's, and I love them. I bought 8's while I was at it.

I am really enjoying this sweater. I can't believe how quickly it's knitting up, and I think I will have just enough yarn to do the sleeves and the body and the gallop of crochet around the neck and fronts. It may end up being the Elann Non-Crop Cardi if my yarn holds out. Am really hoping that I don't end up sitting on a bajillion little pearl beads, not to mention the teardrop pearls that I think will finish the points.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bear With A Problem, Revisited

Remember my bear with two problems? We weren't able to take care of the first, which involved longitudinal stick management and allegories to the workplace.

But Secondborn found his partner in crime, and we -- Secondborn, Fourthborn, and I -- collaborated on a redesign and re-posting of the ransom note, using Secondborn's stash of scrapbooking fonts. I also successful evaded any brownie baking [at least for the time being], and we took eight new photos for the blog. Not to mention all those mini M&M's we consumed while BittyBit napped.


Yes, it's cheesy to simply invert the original photo. But Bear #2 growled at me when I proposed the idea of taking him back for a proper portrait. BittyBit is a lovely child, with sharp little teeth and the persistence of Gandhi. Bear #2 would prefer to visualize world peace and not his own beheading.

The little Bear Brothers, reunited at last!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Thou mammering, earth-vexing miscreant!

Thou errant, dizzy-eyed minnow! Thou impertinent, sheep-biting baggage!

That would be me, chastising myself in cobbled-together Elizabethan cussing. http://www.renfaire.com/Language/insults.html

Why, you ask? Yesterday I broke one of my CP DP's. Which left me with nine. Tonight at Knit Night, I made one vanish into thin air! Houdini couldn't have done a more thorough job.

I checked my box of tools. I frisked the handful of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock that remains for finishing BittyBit's Bitty Socks. I checked the bag that I lug stuff around in. I opened my planner and flipped pages. I carefully unloaded my planner tote and inspected it for contraband.

As a last resort, I took one of the surviving needles up to the barrista and showed it to him and said they'd probably find one in a corner while sweeping up, and to please save it for me. I think I was too wild-eyed with frustration for him to say anything other than a hasty but enthusiastic "Yes, ma'am!"

I am going to log off and take everything back to my bed and check -- carefully -- again. I have the sinking feeling that I have inadvertently wandered onto the set of "And Then There Were None."

What would Miss Marple do?

Monday, September 04, 2006

BittyBit's Bitty Socks

LittleBit suggested the title.

I am stunned into [relative] silence at how quickly and easily a pair of socks for a toddler fly into being.

You saw the first sock in its pregnant-God's-eye phase, last Tuesday.

When I went to bed that night, I was -- I hoped -- ready to begin the heel shaping. Wednesday I cast on the second sock. When I came home from work Thursday night, the second sock was also in the vicinity of her ankles.

Before we left for quilt class on Saturday morning, we slipped the socks on her dear, fat little feet. And took pictures, lots of pictures. However, they did not turn out, as she was having way too much fun waving her feet with their halos of needles. It is a miracle that we got the socks on and off without dropping any stitches or breaking any needles.

Last night I turned the heel on one sock. This morning I finished the heel and added 20 rounds of K2P2 ribbing.

We dashed over to Fort Worth to try the sock on before she took her nap. She balked at the needles, so I ripped them out and wrestled the sock onto her *tired* dear, fat little foot. It fit! And then I spent 15 minutes retrieving stitches and reloading needles.

And in the process broke one of my Crystal Palace DP's. Entirely my own fault: I was waving a handful of them around, and jabbed myself in the thigh. I'm just thankful that only one of them broke. My thigh is Teflon, or Kryptonite. It's not even bruised.

Frugal wench that I am, I grabbed the sandpaper when I got home and tried to repoint that needle, to no avail. So now I have 9 CP DP's, instead of 10. Enough to knit two socks at a go, if the working needle commutes from sock to sock. At least I tried.

Secondborn will be emailing me picture(s) later; she's spent a good part of the day studying.

I added five more rounds of ribbing on the sock and then used the same crochet cast-off as for mine. Haven't cut the yarn yet; am reserving the right to go back and add another 10 rounds or so, depending upon how much is left when I bring the second sock to this point. I'm just turning the heel as we speak.

It's been a good day, even if I have nothing more than verbiage to give you.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Vintage Red and Purple Fibonacci Tunic

This sweater is 20 years old, give or take a month or two. It is mostly silk, with touches of wool or silk/wool blend, and just a smidgen of mohair. It was my first "sleeve sweater", and it covered one pregnancy and a multitude of sins.

Do you remember "Units"? I was the first woman in my congregation to wear them. I was not, alas, the first woman to look good in them; that would have been a svelte blonde woman with an unlikely first name and a personality so warm and gentle that it was impossible to hate her. I wore this sweater over a "Units" cowlneck with the overlong, wrinked sleeves and the overlong cowl neck (which I think is in the back of my closet somewhere) and the basic black skirt (ditto).

Color's not good on the sleeves, but at least you can see how it starts out small and normal, stripes Kaffe-ishly at the wrist, and then explodes into lush abundance at the wrist and makes a bold dash for the shoulder. I think I knitted this up on 3's and 5's, but it's been 20 years and I've slept since then.

This is the back, where left-brain symmetry gave way to right-brain spontaneity and major stashbusting. So major that I didn't think ahead 20 years and keep some for inevitable repairs. And thus it is that I have one small hole and nothing with which to patch it.

This is the winter that I figure out how to rectify that small omission. Even if it means that I drag out my stash of silk ribbons for silk ribbon embroidery and hope the hole is not in a strategic location. [I could get up and inspect the sweater at this point, but why?] A hydrangea bush embroidered over one boob does not count as a clever, discreet repair. Not in this woman's botanical garden, anyway!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sweet Are the Uses of Insomnia

It's 2:12 on Saturday morning. "Wow," you think, "that woman is like the Energizer Bunny." And ordinarily, you would be right. This is the time that I am frequently shutting down the popsicle stand after dancing with geriatric wolves at the church singles' dance. My friends are delivered to their respective homes or cars, LittleBit has yielded up the computer and gone to bed, and I'm enjoying a mug of hot milk and some cinnamon toast before rummaging around for the footie sleeper.

Not this morning. The past week has been easier than several that preceded it, both at work and in my personal life, for which I am thankful. Nevertheless, there were far too many moments when I suspected that somebody around here had prayed for patience and not told me. [What? this doesn't happen to you? You didn't learn not to pray for patience, because then things would happen that you have to be patient about? I caught onto that scam several decades ago.]

So on the one foot, it would have been great to join my friends out on the dance floor and boot-scoot my troubles away. And on the other, my body was screaming for an early bedtime. When you fall asleep playing Sudoku on the AARP website, you are too tired to be good company. The friend from church who had wanted to go with me to the dance, had to work late: my cue to call Brother Sushi and tell him he was on his own.

The boss let us leave an hour early. I was home well before 5:00, through the inbox and the knitting blogs by 5:45, and asleep at 6:30. I woke at 12:14, pressed the fabrics for today's quilt blocks, spent half an hour checking and rechecking the math on the pattern page, because the proportions are a little different from last month's block, and cutting out a bajillion little strips of fabric.

The blocks are finished and waiting atop my tote for our jaunt to the quilt shop in another eight hours. The sewing machine is turned off. The iron is off and unplugged. I can't decide if I want to nuke a mug of milk and try for another waltz with the sandman, or grab the jacket that I cut out two months ago and see how much I can accomplish.

We pick up the last blocks for this year's series quilt today and sign up for next year's quilt. All five of my daughters-by-birth and my new one (Firstborn's best friend in FL) are participating, either in person or through mail order. 7 people x 12 blocks = 84 links in the chain-mail of family solidarity and tradition. [Or, for the cynical among you, seven quilt tops that may not get quilted before the Second Coming.]

When all the blocks for this year's quilt are done, I'll get together with Secondborn for a photography session. I'm combining my blocks with LittleBit's for a new quilt for her [Littlebit's] bed. All bets are off as to who is going to do the quilting. I may give her a quick lesson in hand-quilting and say "knock yourself out, kid!"

Next year's quilt ought to be easier to document while in progress, as I get my Christmas Club money in early November and will buy my digital camera shortly thereafter. Now there's an incentive to tidy up my sewing corner!